New York City

New York City's Modest Reopening Marred by Arbitrary Guidelines

Phase 4 of city's reopening means loose rules for zoos but strict requirements for bars.


New York City finally caught up with the rest of the state and entered Phase 4 of its coronavirus reopening Monday.

Virus cases in New York City have remained stable since the state first permitted nonessential businesses in the city, including restaurants, offices, and churches, to open their doors last month. Over the last month, positive test rates in New York City, which had been the epicenter of the state's outbreak, have hovered just over 1 percent.

The city's new phase of reopening will expand the range of outdoor activities permitted. Open-air facilities such as zoos and botanical gardens can now open at 33 percent capacity. TV and movie production will be able to resume, and professional sports can restart, albeit without seated fans. This phase does not include any changes for indoor activities: Concert venues and museums will still be closed, and restaurants and bars are limited to outdoor seating.

Indeed, restrictions on bars are getting tighter.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo decreed that businesses across the state will no longer be allowed to offer walk-up bar service or to serve alcohol to non-dining customers. ("Walk up bar windows is one of the only positive things to come out of the pandemic," one Twitter user commented.) Cuomo also promised to crack down on bars and restaurants that are not strictly obeying reopening guidelines, announcing a "three strikes" rule that would force bars that earn three health violations to close down again.

The governor has blamed the "block party format" of these bar reopenings for the moderate increase in coronavirus cases among young New Yorkers. However, it's possible that the order can be circumvented with merely a serving of potato chips, which seems unlikely to deter large crowds from congregating. And a stricter stance could drive patrons away from sidewalks and curbs into higher risk indoor venues.

The NYC Hospitality Alliance, which represents more than 24,000 eating and drinking establishments in the city, is highly critical of the new ban on serving alcohol without food, saying in a press release that "Cuomo is rolling back the alcohol law that has been in existence since prohibition ended…These constant policy changes raise serious legal questions pertaining to due process, and add more difficulties to the operations of thousands of businesses and their employees who are trying to survive during these uncertain and grueling times."

Obviously, any gathering carries some risk of disease spread. But there's a growing body of evidence that when such gatherings are held outside, they pose less risk of transmission. One study from China, analyzing 318 outbreaks and 1245 cases, found that just one outbreak occurred outdoors. Another study from Japan estimated that outdoor transmission was almost 20 times less likely than indoor transmission.

Given that lower risk, imposing additional restrictions on outdoor drinking seems excessive, particularly when that restriction is an arbitrary requirement that customers order food with their drinks.

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  1. It would be nice if New York fully opened the bars, so AOC could go back to work.

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  3. In my county in Virginia Chuck E Cheese is open right now for games and dine in but the county I’m in is going to do distance learning. I mean I always knew Ball pits, pizza and wierd animitronic animals were more essential than schools but now the gov is admitting it. This whole thing is beyond parody. So no these dumb, arbitrary and capricious rules don’t surprise me. I mean for fucks sake we have to wear masks when we enter restaurants but don’t when we actually sit down.

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    2. Your governor can moonwalk, but can he pop lock and drop it?

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    4. zoos and botanical gardens can now open at 33 percent capacity.

      Show me The Science!

  4. “reopening means loose rules for zoos”

    The animals are let out shortly after detained because I guess there isnt enough evidence to hold them

    1. They certainly won’t be having the last laugh. We’ll be breaking in and eating them by the end of De Blasio’s term.

    2. Nice.

  5. gonna be delicious when they’re all “jfc we destroyed the world economy and ten cities are on fire and we *still* can’t beat T”

    1. We are living in a giant insane asylum.

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  6. Prediction: New York will open up, total cumulative infections will go up, New York will panic, and the lock down will be back tighter than ever. Because if there’s one thing that drives all the events of 2020 it’s panic.

    1. The 2021 panic when New York takes a fresh look at its budget will be epic. Can’t wait.

      1. dafuq’s gonna happen when Covid-21 rolls around?

        1. Pfft, don’t be silly. There won’t be another pandemic until 2023… to subside around mid-November 2024.

    2. ” Because if there’s one thing that drives all the events of 2020 it’s panic.”

      I don’t see panic. I see fear, anger and frustration. With no end in sight. And the corona virus isn’t driven by any of these things. It’s a force of nature which can’t be bargained with.

      1. Aka panic

      2. What qualifies as “panic” to you?

    3. That’s going to happen everywhere.

    4. Which would be super stupid. The epidemic is over in NYC. It will continue to simmer at a low level for a while, but it’s over. I just wish the rest of the country would let itself get there.

    5. For reference see Chicago

  7. The theater continues. The “leaders” in NY are still patting themselves on the back for lowering their curve, even though the virus swept through when they weren’t ready for it.

    Open the city up. Your covid crisis is over.

  8. Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of people. New Yorkers are so friendly.

  9. Just say your bar is holding nightly protests for BLM. Then even Reason will side with you.

  10. Just look at that picture. Like a scene from some third world shithole. Eating and drinking next to an open sewer.

    1. Greatest city on Earth.

    2. It’s a city that never *sleeps*, not a city that never *seeps*!

  11. New York lost something when all the white hipsters moved there.

  12. loose rules for zoos

    Nice band name.

  13. Now that they have killed off all the old people who vote republican, time to party to get ready for the crackdown just before the election.
    Have no fear, all the mail ballots have already been cast and counted.

    1. And all those dead old Republicans will be voting D for the first time in their lives on their mail-in ballots.

  14. What does no booze without food have to do with contagion? Seems more like directed against drunkenness.

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    2. Nothing. The arbitrariness is designed to prompt people to break the rules. You must obey or be forced to obey, and they look forward to making you obey.

  15. Mayor Bain has his priorities. 27 officers are on full time duty guarding the sacred BLM mural while the city burns down and the murder rate doubles.

    1. I think I can handle that level of irony.

      1. I was thinking about the left’s war on statues. The last time there was a real bout of this sort of thing was during the Reformation. The Protestants made BLM look like amateurs and destroyed entire cathedrals and most of the medieval artistic legacy in places like England and Northern Germany. But they were not iconoclasts in the same way Muslims are or Orthodox Christians had been. They didn’t object to any sort of depiction of people or of Christ. There was plenty of religious art done in Protestant nations during that time. They just didn’t want such images in churches. Church was a sacred space such that it made an image of Mary into an idol and a graven image where it wouldn’t be hanging in your living room.

        The current woke progs make a similar distinction. They claim that the problem is not that there are statues of unclean people but that there are such statues on government property. They claim, and it is debatable whether they are telling the truth but I will assume for the moment they are, that there isn’t a problem with a bad statue if it is on private property. It is when it is on public property that is the problem.

        That really tells you a lot about how government has replaced the church. To someone like me, a statue I don’t like put up on public property is annoying. I may object to it but I can live with it. They can’t because they see government the way Christians see the church.

        1. But are there any statues that symbolize a government endorsement of your people being treated brutally for centuries? You can’t compare experiences without having any frame of reference.

          I agree that focusing on statues is silly, for both sides. Let’s not also obsess so much over them that we throw out our principle of “unidentified federal goons knocking heads without so much as an invitation by the state” is bad.

          1. But are there any statues that symbolize a government endorsement of your people being treated brutally for centuries?

            Sure. But, I couldn’t care less about the government endorsing via statue. You only do because you see government as some kind of sacred entity akin to the Church.

            And it is not silly. It is destructive and barbaric. The fact that even someone as cravenly partisan as you are is willing to admit that it is even silly shows just how bad it is. We have finally found something the left has done that even Tony can’t endorse. It is stunning.

            1. So statues are meaningless until someone wants to remove them, then they become the very living symbols of civilization.

              You’d think you’d be against unidentified federal goons brutalizing citizens in express contravention of state and local wishes no matter what those citizens were doing.

        2. I think if a face mask is put on a statue it will be safe.

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  17. Damn that Cuomo for bringing his poor leadership to Texas.

    1. Cuomo killed how many nursing home patients with his asinine policies?

      How many cases nationally came from NY’ers going around the country?

      Nobody has done a worse job on this than Cuomo.

      1. See that was a joke and now you’re the joke.

  18. One of the things that has annoyed me the most about the COVID lockdowns has been the utter unreasonableness of some of the rules. Skipping over the whole mask deal, one gets the impression that the different mayors and governors across the country are in some sort of contest to see who can come up with the most petty, stupid thing, and get the public to accept it as some sort of valid COVID safety measure. These COVID rules don’t have to be logical, but we must obey or be forced to obey. There’s no room for local decision-making or thoughtful disagreement. It’s all about power. The government, under the auspices of addressing an admittedly serious health crisis, can arbitrarily criminalize virtually everything—from operating your business, to visiting your relatives across town.

    A lot of Democrats immediately jumped on the chance to close down guns stores and stop processing paperwork required to purchase a gun or obtain a carry permit. That was pretty much item #1 on their lists. A lot of Democrats also whipped out orders that gave themselves close to unlimited power, so long as they said “COVID” somewhere in their justifications. One mayor even claimed her rules somehow magically extended 2 miles OUTSIDE the city limits.

    I’ve got a picture of a park where the bathrooms were closed for COVID reasons, but the city brought in port-a-potties. In another city, they allowed the city parks to remain open, but prohibit people from using the parking lots at the parks. In some places you can walk in a park, but are prohibited from sitting on the park benches. In places, you may be in the park, but you may not do things like toss a ball or frisbee with your children (

    In Encinitas, California, police fined people $1,000 just for sitting in cars to watch the sunset at the beach.For sitting in their own cars!

    At Easter, multiple locations fined people for attending church, even for church services held in the parking lot where the congregation stayed each in their own cars int eh parking lot.

    Local radio has reported that the local public library will be reopening. Personally, I have to wonder why the library was ever closed for COVID.. How many people are in the library at one time that they cannot practice social distancing? Anyway, having been closed at all is one thing, but apparently upon reopening, only the 1st floor of the library will be open; the 2nd floor will remain closed. Why?

    Another local form of ridiculousness is that bars are closed. But restaurants with bars in them had previously been open, and people could use the bar there. But now, you may not use the bar. However, if you are seated at a table AND order food, then the bar can serve you. So, apparently sitting at a table and having food with my alcohol somehow makes me safer from COVID than sitting at the bar or just drinking at a table without ordering food is going to kill us all? I’m told that the bar at a local golf course is simply providing a plate with a piece of cheese and a grape or two on-the-house to all patrons so as to comply with the food requirement for the golfers to “be safe from COVID” while they have their normal post-round drinks.

    The local mall was not allowed to open until it had done an expensive A/C upgrade to have some sort of HEPA filters in place and the food court is not allowed to reopen. Meanwhile 1/4 mile farther down the road the WalMart never closed, never revamped its A/C, and the McDonald’s embedded in the front of the WalMart never closed.

    You may remember when LA beaches were allowed to reopen, and running, biking, swimming and surfing were allowed, but just sitting on the beach was forbidden.

    And Michigan, where you could go into Wal Mart to buy stuff, so long as it wasn’t paint, bug spray, or seeds for your garden..How the hell does forbidding people from buying seeds save anyone from COVID? Also in Michigan, you could use you boat on the state’s waterways, but not the motor on your boat.

    1. I’ve tried to figure out how they would justify some of those distinctions if they were made to justify them. For the most part, if they were made to justify them, they would just change them — sometimes to something else just as arbitrary, i.e. moving the exceptions “border” to the other side of a particular arbitrary thing. But if I had to play the role:

      You can walk, run, or swim at the beach but not just sit or lie there because they’re balancing the importance of anti-contagion with that of exercise. Or because laying down on the beach would be too popular, so they’re spacing out the crowds because they’re keeping many people from coming. (“Hold some of my calls.”) A distinction between motorboating and sailboating or rowboating could be maintained on a similar basis.

      Bathrooms closed, portables in their place is easy: single vs. multiple occupancy, without having to station someone to count the number in the bathroom.

      Here we’ve got park open, playground (in the park) closed. That’s not hard: touching the equipment.

      No liquor without food could be justified on the same popularity basis: discouraging without totally prohibiting, so you get fewer people using the facilities. I suppose you could accomplish the same by allowing only unpopular mixed drinks to be served.

      I’ve heard this sort of justification of arbitrary rules on many subjects. It’s always some version of “THOSE are not the problem, THESE are,” when they all contribute. Pollution controls are virtually always on a basis like that. Too difficult to apply a maximum to the amount of substance a person can emit, so you make it illegal for them to emit it under certain arbitrary circumstances, even if the contribution from those circumstances is minuscule out of the total. So for example, the volatile organic compounds (VOC) rules in California initially targeted lawn mowers and solvents in household products. Sometimes it’s about whether there’s a big enough pressure group to squawk about the restriction on their liberty.

      1. In the motor boating case, I belive there was a maximum occupancy of 2 people per boat, too. So I could pile 6 people in my SUV, tow the boat 200 miles to the lake and that’s OK. But only two on the boat at a time? That’s stupid unless you have an occupancy limit on the cars too. Most boats don’t comfortably hold more than 2-4 people anyway. And once on the water, boats are *not* close together, way more than 6 feet.

        The only real thing is that you might make it a less “attractive nuisance”, which is basically what you said for the other things. Which just highlights the arbitrariness of it all…”We don’t really want to do any of theses things, but we know that you’ll rebel if we close the liquor stores…”

        The port-a-potties…no way to wash your hands afterward. Ever tried to open a port-a-pottie door without using your hands?

        The bar vs food…trivially bypassed with an appetizer…bars giving out free appetizers to comply. How does that do anything at all? Offering free food might be an incentive even. Next order will probably ban free food.

        1. The “attractive nuisance” concept is what recreational drugs policy’s been built around since forever. Drugs were prohibited only if they were popular. In some cases their popularity was given openly as justification for their prohibition, but usually that was left unsaid in the hope that people would think there was a more scientific reason.

          They would also undercut their own basis. In the last century the general justification for having drug policy was that drugs were medicine, therefore they needed to be left to the experts to prescribe. But then they said that certain drugs had no medical use; if that was true, on what basis were they even called “drugs”? So then they just called them substances, but that cut out the basis for requiring medical experts to be the ones to handle them.

          1. Same with self-made kiddie porn. It’s exploitation of someone who can’t give consent…uh…by someone who can’t give consent?

            Oh, hell, it’s the same thing with democracy: requiring people to rule over each other collectively instead of ruling themselves individually — because people aren’t competent to rule their own lives, only to rule each other’s.

    2. Agree.

      The problem is that you are using logic. Most people don’t use logic and since you are a minority you get mentally screwed.

      1. Who needs logic and facts. That’s for conservatives and greedy, selfish people who want to kill grandparents and sick people. In the post-covid world all we need is feelings and to not be racist and everything else will work itself out. Or at least that’s the gospel according to the Ministry of Truth.

    3. And curfews! What is it with the limits on time of day many of these pandemic edicts impose on various activities? Concentrating activities into less time is exactly what you wouldn’t want if you want distancing. So the only possibility is that they want to discourage people from doing anything, period, by making things less convenient. Same with the way they immediately jumped to closing parks and fucking golf courses, which again would seem to be the opposite of what you’d want if you wanted to spread people out.

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